5/25/11

Heroes for a Nation Forgetting God

With this year's approaching Memorial Day, my eyes mist up with new patriotism. I've thought much about heroes of late. I've reflected on the courage of the Navy Seals who took down the terrorist Osama bin Laden. I watched war movies about men who stood for strong ideals. I even watched a YouTube video about a brave dog. Courage is my "theme" for the year, and it seems to be the lesson God is teaching me at every turn.

And then I encountered a book by Erwin W. Lutzer. In When a Nation Forgets God, Lutzer discusses seven lessons we must learn from Nazi Germany. Each chapter is full of facts that illustrate the darkness in America ~ issues like the economy, propaganda, secularist schools, and the folly of God separated from government. But one chapter was a clarion call.

"Today in America," Lutzer wrote, "we need an army of ordinary heroes to stand against the gathering darkness in our land. We need people who will stand for truth courageously, consistently, and with humility and grace. We need millions of believers who will represent Christ in the various vocations of America. We need to enlist people who know what they believe, why they believe it, and how to live out their convictions in diverse situations. We need those who are willing to pay the price of discipleship and obedience, and to do so with joy."

Lutzer says we're not on to suffer as the Christians in Germany did under Hitler's reign (though that may someday be our lot), but we are simply "confronted with a growing hostility toward the Christian faith in both the popular culture and in our legal system" that threatens our freedoms.

Lutzer believes the spiritual climate of America "will never be changed unless we have a revival of what we call 'the layman.' That is, we need ordinary people living authentically for Christ ...." He listed two famous Christians who stood against Hitler's intrusion into the affairs of the church ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer (left) and Martin Niemoller (right) ~ but then he lists other modern heroes, ordinary men and women, whose courage thrust them into positions of influence.

Many are familiar with Corrie ten Boom (left), who survived the concentration camps and later found the courage to forgive her abusive captors. Then there is Zakaria Botros (right), a Coptic priest who preaches the Gospel to fifty million Muslims in the Middle East each week. He is regarded as Islam's public enemy #1. Lutzer lists others, but his point is: "Only through such an army of committed followers of Christ can we hope to stem the relentless flow of secularism, eroticism, and the damning influence of 'intolerance' that would close the mouths of Christian believers."

Lutzer asks, "... are we teaching our people how to represent Christ in a hostile environment?" Too much of the time, churches simply teach Christians how to get victory over their addictions and make nice with each other to personal advantage, but little time is spent on Christian "warfare" strategies and how to stand with courage.

My pastor, Dr. David Jeremiah, is currently preaching about spiritual warfare (on the television program, Turning Point), and I found myself captured by the idea that the reason we need spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:11) is because there is a battle. And the reason there is a battle is because we have a relentless, set-on-our-destruction enemy who has stepped up his tactics in these last days. We must be vigilant against him (1 Peter 5:8); we ignore his strategies to our peril.

If Lutzer is right, dark days are ahead, and the hour for heroism is clearly here. My prayer is that we, as individuals and then as families, churches, and Christian schools will prepare for the battle, and learn how to stand on the Word of God, following the marching orders from our spiritual Commander-in-Chief, Jesus Christ. As Lutzer said, we must exalt the cross in the gathering darkness.

"Bonhoeffer saw clearly," Lutzer said, "what we in America have not yet grasped: that for us as Christians, the conflict is really between humanism and Christianity; or alternative religions and Christianity ... For us as Christian it is really a struggle for the survival of the message of the cross in our increasingly hostile culture."

But "we are self-absorbed rather than God-absorbed," he said, "and we can see the results."

Lutzer's closing paragraphs get to the heart of the matter. "...The cross reminds us," he said, "that the battle is not so much between church and state as it is within our own hearts. If Christ has all of us, if the cross stands above politics and the world ... we shall overcome regardless of the cost."

And to that, I say, "Amen."

2 comments:

Kay said...

What an outstanding article! Very timely and I plan on referring family and friends.

dmwwrites4jc said...

Thanks, Kay. Welcome to Heart Choices! Let's pray for those heroes together ... and pray that God will make us more courageous.